Ten more people, including two Canadians, were sickened with a new virus aboard one of two quarantined cruise ships with some 5,400 passengers and crew aboard, health officials in Japan said Thursday.
China reported earlier 73 more deaths while the World Health Organization appealed for more funds to help countries battle the spread of the disease.
The ships in Japan and Hong Kong are caught up in a global health emergency that seems to worsen by the day
In the port city of Yokohama, just outside Tokyo, health workers said 10 more people from the Diamond Princess were confirmed ill with the virus, in addition to 10 others who tested positive on Wednesday. The latest infections included four Japanese, two Americans, two Canadians, one New Zealander and one Taiwanese. Most were in their 60s and 70s.
They were dropped off as the ship docked and transferred to nearby hospitals for further tests and treatment.
The 3,700 people on board faced a two-week quarantined in their cabins. The ship had 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members, including 251 Canadians.
More tests are pending on 171 others who had symptoms or had contact with a man who was diagnosed with the virus after leaving the ship in Hong Kong, the Health Ministry said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says the Canadian mission in Tokyo has been in touch with the Canadian passengers on the ship to offer them consular assistance, and the government will look to the cruise line to repatriate them when the quarantine is finished.
The 3,600 people aboard the Hong Kong ship were also being screened after three passengers on a previous voyage were diagnosed with the virus. The territory’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, announced that two terminals — including one where the cruise ship is currently quarantined — will be shut down.
The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday asked for US$675 million to help countries address the expected spread of the virus. He acknowledged that the sum is a lot, but told a news briefing that “it’s much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now.”
Tedros said that in the last 24 hours, the U.N. health agency has seen the biggest jump in cases since the start of the epidemic. According to the latest figures early Thursday, the number of confirmed cases jumped by 3,694 to 28,018, and the death toll rose to 563.
Outside mainland China, at least 240 cases have been confirmed, including two fatalities, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
China has strongly defended its epidemic control measures and called on other nations not to go overboard in their responses. Countries “can assess the epidemic situation in an objective, fair, calm and rational manner, respect authoritative and professional WHO recommendations, understand and support China’s epidemic control efforts,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chenying said at an online news conference. “Fear is worse than any virus.”
To treat the thousands of patients in its hard-hit central region, China built a new hospital in a matter of days and converted a gymnasium, exhibition hall, and cultural center.
Patients were being moved into a 1,000-bed hospital with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms in Wuhan. A 1,500-bed hospital also specially built for virus patients is to open Thursday. The hospitals made from converted public spaces to treat patients with mild symptoms have a total of 3,400 beds, the simple cots placed in tight rows in cavernous rooms without any barriers between them.
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